Recently, I presented at Gartner’s Digital Marketing Conference about what it means to truly invest in customer experience (CX). If you like, you can watch the recorded presentation:
The premise of my presentation comes from a world-renowned, controversial neuropsychologist, Baroness Greenfield, who was famously mis-quoted as saying, "The Internet is making us dumb".
I had an opportunity to catch up with the Baroness in London many years ago and learned a few things from her. It is time to dust off those learnings - they are relevant for all digital enterprises today.
The Baroness meant that, in a hyper-connected world with people glued to their screens, the structure of the human brain is changing. We are not becoming intellectually dull but we are becoming emotionally dull. Connectedness is driving a loss of empathy and, in turn, paradoxically, driving a loss of human connectedness.
The result, particularly amongst the new generation, the millennial, is limited brand affinity and, consequently, low switching costs between different goods purveyors and limited to no pricing power. We are connected but we are losing our essential humanity and becoming automatons.
There is a near-perfect analogy between the growth and development of the human brain with the growth and development of brand identification and affinity. When a newborn enters the world, the newborn has no awareness of concept of its caregivers. The newborn reacts to negative stimuli and cries. When the newborn cries, its caregiver addresses the negative stimuli and the newborn stops crying. And each time this happens, a new set of neural connections are made in the newborn’s brain.
Over time, the newborn learns that it is a person that is taking away the negative stimuli when they cry. They look into that person's eyes. And, quite rapidly, as new neural connections exponentially increases after they first hold a gaze, they form an abstract identification and bond with that person: this is my mother. And then they smile.
A new customer is a newborn child brought into the world of a company's employees, products and services. That customer metaphorically cries when they need help - they go to the website, they go to the store, they call customer support. And each interaction a customer has with that company - online or offline - forms a new set of neural connections. At some point, they form an abstract identification and bond with that company: this is a brand I trust. And then they too smile.
The critical point here: we need to bring the human element back to digital business because we are not robots. We need to recognize that, behind the disintermediation of connected devices and screens, there are real people. They are forming hard-wired perceptions of our brand each and every time we interact with them. And that congeals into a lifelong brand affinity and lifetime brand loyalty with each interaction that is positive and uniquely addresses their needs.
Brands that win will focus on customer experience. They will bring back the human element. They will connect, protect and respect their customers. They will expand their focus beyond data-driven marketing and customer acquisition to the post-login experience.
In other words, they will make their customers smile.